Monday, November 10, 2008

My World: Carpenter Nature Center

Welcome to this weeks edition of My World. The meme where you show the world what you love about yours.
Carpenter Nature Center is located just north of Hastings, MN on the shores of the St Croix River. Since it is about 15 to 20 minutes from home it is one of the places that I spend a lot of my time either out birding or photographing insects and other nature.
The new interpretive center sits on the 425 acre main property which is on the Minnesota side of the St Croix. The center has a large room for special programs as well as hands on exhibits, live animals and education raptors on display. The main property is also the location of the administration building as well as another educational building.
Around the buildings there are all sorts of gardens. There are herb gardens, flower gardens, butterfly gardens and a water garden that they put in last fall.
Even areas as organized and maintained as the gardens are still home to many wild creatures. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds are always buzzing around the flowers in the gardens while dragonflies and frogs prefer the pools in the water garden.
One of the more popular programs at Carpenter, at least it is more popular with me, is the bird banding. The banding group sets up their mist nets each Friday to catch and band passerines. One of the most difficult jobs of the banding crew is to get the birds out of the mist nets. Typically the birds struggle to get free which only entangles them more like this gray catbird.
The public is invited to come and watch the banding on one Friday each month but since I am a frequent visitor to Carpenter, and now also a volunteer, I usually get to come and take some photos when I can manage to get some time off on a Friday. On this particular Friday they were lucky to catch a small brown creeper.
Besides the bird banding I spend a lot of my time at Carpenter walking through trails that run through the fields.
During the spring and summer the fields are filled with blooming wild flowers which attract many different types of butterflies.
Bees are also common in the fields. There are one wild bees, such as bumblebees and yellowjackets, as well as colonies of honeybees that are raised to help pollinate plants at the center.
But life is not all fun and flowers for the bees and other insects living here. There are also predators lurking around the field waiting to strike. Like this olive-sided flycatcher who has caught a yellow jacket.
Other birds that prey on insects in the fields include kingbirds, warblers, and eastern bluebirds who often nest in bird houses placed around the park.
Carpenter also has its share of wooded areas. Hiking trails wind through oak savannas as well as down wooded ravines that run down to the river.
The woods have have their own share of wildlife including birds, such as this cedar waxwing, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, deer and other small mammals.
Since Carpenter is located on the St Croix there are some spots that provide a beautiful view of the river.
The river bluffs provide updrafts and wind current that help carry raptors through the sky. You can frequently see eagles, vultures, and hawks, such as this red-tailed hawk, floating over head.
There are also some ponds and marshy areas on the property.
These have been good places for me to find dragonflies to photograph.
During the fall the orchard provides apples and raspberries which, along with the honey products, are for sale. These goods help to offset some of the costs of running the nature center making Carpenter more self sufficient.

Carpenter also hosts a number of special events each year. This fall they combined with The Raptor Center to host the fall raptor release.

Carpenter Nature Center has been a special place for me and I am glad that I can share it with all of you.


Leedra said...

I know this is not what this post is about....but I love the cute frog photograph. You know I enjoy all your photos, but that one brought a real smile to my face.

i beati said...

what a wonderful place- I long to see a bluebird sandy

ChrissyM said...

What a wonderful place to visit. I can understand why you would go there often. Awesome photo opportunites there! Great post!

Anonymous said...

That was a real treat. I spent the whole time imagining myself there. Your photos are great and the bird shots are simply beautiful!

Anonymous said...

You are so lucky to have this beautiful sanctuary where you can commune with nature just within reach. Thanks for sharing this with us and your photos are simply gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm SOLD! I want to go there now!!! Living in this huge city always makes me want to places like this:)

Posted mine, HERE. Have a great day! And nice to view your world today!

The Good Life in Virginia said...

a marvelous post and i would love to visit the nature center when i come that direction. thanks for sharing with us.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

That was a photo journey through the park that I enjoyed so much.

Unknown said...

Wow what wonderful pictures you captured, I adore the frog

Jane Hards Photography said...

Magbificent my kind of world, especially saving those beautiful birds,

Anonymous said...

I can see why you spend a lot of time there. It looks to be a very special place.

I like all the photos, but the frog and the bee are my favorites.

Arija said...

If only I could still fly, I would be there in a flash with my hiking boots and camera at the ready. What a magical place to have such easy access to.
Love your photos as always.

AphotoAday said...

Great photos... Looks like a great place...

Shelley said...

I would be at this place all the time if it were by my house! Your photos make it so enticing! The frog made me smile too!

Unknown said...

Off-topic (but I enjoyed this post and the series of photos very much):

I posted on Saturday about seeing smaller subspecies of Canada geese on a pond near where I live in Northfield. I noticed your label list doesn't mention Canada geese -- I am wondering if you have encountered these lesser subspecies before.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that looks like quite a rich environment. What a joy it must be to spend time there.

Amila Suwa said...

My inquring mind wants to know whether that dragonfly is a male White-faced Meadowhawk?

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